Fortunately, approximately three hours later, the Japanese hurler was able to talk about the Joba Chamberlain liner that had felled him and left a noticeable bruise on the right side of his neck.
"I'm fine," Kawakami said through his interpreter. "I'm alive. At first, I was worried that it might have hit a bone. I'm glad it didn't."
With his head tilted toward the first-base line at the end of his delivery, Kawakami was unable to react to Chamberlain's liner. As the ball bounced toward Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar, who ended the inning with a throw to first base, the 34-year-old right-hander remained on his knees and stared toward the Braves' dugout.
After briefly being examined by trainer Jim Lovell and Braves manager Bobby Cox, Kawakami made his way toward the dugout with limited assistance. A short time later, without taking X-rays, the club announced that he'd suffered a contusion at the right base of his neck.
"At first, I thought it hit his glove and then his neck," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "But it hit him square. We're lucky it wasn't anything any more serious."
Kawakami, who had proven perfect through the first three innings, was hit with at least one other comebacker on the left side of his upper torso during his successful days in Japan's Central League. This was the 14th career start for the rookie hurler, who signed his first Major League contract with the Braves in January.
"It's probably going to be worse [over the next couple of days]," Kawakami said. "It will probably be more sore. Maybe two days from now, it will head toward a better direction, and I'll see how I feel."
With a scheduled off-day on Monday, the Braves are in a position where they could skip Kawakami's next turn in the rotation. Whether he makes his next scheduled start during Tuesday's series opener against the Phillies will be based on how he reacts over the next couple of days.
"There was a lot of swelling and a lot of discoloration and bleeding," Cox said. "It was one of those freak things. We think he has a real good chance of starting."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less